The blue rinse was developed in the 1930s as a new technique to combat yellow tones in ageing white hair – like a precursor to modern purple shampoos. Applied correctly, it created a sleek platinum silver effect. When applied with a more heavy hand, or left to process for too long, it created the blue and purple shades that went on to become associated with Mrs Slocombe, Phyllis from Coronation Street and little old ladies across the country. As time went on, the blue rinse gained negative connotations as former Conservative leader Michael Howard blamed what he called “The Blue Rinse Brigade” for thwarting his attempts to modernise the Tory party. Blue rinses were soon relegated to a caricature of conservative Middle England, but today purposefully pastel hair has undergone a total resurgence – and purple shampoos do the job of keeping blonde and silver hair free of yellow.

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